I hear "the story" all the time - about friends and colleagues who want to volunteer but can't get nonprofits to take them seriously. I while back I was at an AARP staff alumni get-together. Many of the talented people I had worked with years ago have retired but still want to change the world. It was inspiring to hear what people are doing and how they're using their skills to help society. But, it wasn't always easy for them to find the right organization in which to serve.
Judy, who is an expert in the field of volunteering and held a high-level position at AARP, told me that when she retired she went around to numerous charities and said she was willing to lend them her professional skills. Not one nonprofit took her up on her offer. After a year or so of trying, Judy found a charity helping orphans in Vietnam, and ended up moving there for a number of years.
Another past colleague told me, "I was a professional writer and copy editor for 30 years with AARP. I approached this one nonprofit and told them I'd be happy to improve the copy on their website." They looked at him and said (I'm not making this up) "Thanks, but what we really need is a driver to deliver our publications around town. Can you do that?"
Of course, there are plenty of stories where people's skills and talents are well utilized. With the new breed of volunteer, my hunch is that organizations that don't snap up and engage talented people will start to see their support decrease.
How can we help staff think a little bit more outside the box to tap those willing to help in work outside of the canned volunteer position description?